Unless you are an IT manager, understanding all of the technical details of how big data technology — such as Hadoop Hive or Apache Pig as a Service — works isn’t as important as understanding how big data can be used to improve lives. Public safety, whether it’s reducing crime rates or maintaining roads and bridges, is a huge undertaking with serious consequences when mistakes are made. Big data can provide additional insights (such as the connection between home games and crime rates discussed below) to governments and businesses to help them keep cities safe, and better respond to disasters when they strike.
The U.S. Department of Transportation keeps track of more than 600,000 bridges, all of which are more than 20 feet long and used for vehicular traffic. Of those bridges, 25 percent have been classified as deficient. Unfortunately, repairing bridges is an expensive endeavor costing billions of dollars, and until recently, the process of inspecting bridges for problems was slow and inaccurate (since each bridge had to be inspected manually). Occasionally even small mistakes can lead to big consequences, such as when a bridge collapsed in Minneapolis, killing 13 people and injuring 145.